Saturday, May 14, 2016
|Fireworks may be the last holdout of government spending in independence day celebration, Israelis prefer government spending on more practical and realistic social programs|
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
|Detail of Tiberius church painting|
Friday, August 23, 2013
|Syrian gas attack reported by French newspaper Le Monde, August 22, 2013|
Monday, August 5, 2013
|Taglit is great for the "Next Generation" / What about THIS ONE?|
Monday, July 15, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Editor: I have been off doing personal and work related projects the last few months. Yet, life here in Tel Aviv has been swirling like always. Hopefully I will invest time to keep up with life here.
The last few weeks seem to move faster than ever. Arabs states bordering Israel are looking for big changes. The availability of the Internet and mobile phones make it impossible to shut down reports from the Arab street. Arab countries are made up of a young population, many with experience and connection to report to the world. Even under Arab dictatorial rule, the population enjoys freedom to use the Internet and mobile networks. Even in poor countries, good mobile phones with cameras and video cameras are common enough to make it easy to video clips for hungry TV networks. Tel Avivians tend to have a wait and see attitude when it comes to changes in the Arab world. We have seen wars between countries, economic development and talks of more freedom to the common citizen. If giving people cell phones and video cameras is more freedom, than Israelis are not impressed. If it gets down to real political and economic freedom, than we have something to be impressed. Maybe even something to be interested about. If real economic and political freedom comes to Egypt and Tunisia, cooperation, trade and even political bridges can give us something to talk about.Read More...
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
|A run down Muslim mosque in Tiberius. Israelis do not care and associate enough with Arabs to care. A bad situation as a consequence of the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab wars raging ever since the state became independent in 1948 / image from Israel pikiwiki: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PikiWiki_Israel_11832_al_omari_mosque_in_tiberias.jpg|
From US president Obama's latest speeches and meeting with Israeli prime minister to business people trading all the way to tourists: one question is asked about Israel:
Do Israelis care about the Arabs? or care about peace with the Palestinians? Do they care about what others think of Israel's image towards the Arabs?
The short answer: Not always - Israelis are too isolated from Arabs to care much (this is a new development). They are also too disappointed from International media and even more from foreign leaders to care about their image. This is a new situation and it could change. Is this such a bad situation? YES! ABSOLUTELY! Israelis care about tsunami victims in Japan and earthquake victims in Haiti. So not caring about hungry Egyptians and their bread riots and Syrian dictatorship protest killing seems downright cruel.Read More...
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Cuba and France were known in Africa for sending doctors during civil wars and revolutions. Once in a while they would also send soldiers to fight on one side or to stop massacres. As a whole, African revolutionaries would not turn down medical aid from outside countries. Israel has helped people in crisis all around the world. Earthquakes, tsunamis, famine and war are times where people simply need help. So Israelis go, no matter what happens between governments and politicians. If the Libyan and Bahrainian clashes turn into full blown civil wars, should Israel intervene? Most Israelis would say ABSOLUTELY YES. There are plenty of countries willing to help Arab revolutionaries. I am sure that once again France and certainly Italy will send medical aid to Libyans. In the Persian gulf states probably the Iranians will want to jump in. But India is also close by and has a good medical system with well trained doctors and nurses. Will Bahrain even allow Israeli doctors to land and treat their injured? I would like to think that the answer is YES.Read More...
Friday, February 18, 2011
|Haaretz showing protests around the Arab world. Not exactly democracy yet, but quietly hoping for a change. From Haaretz.com 18-Feb-2011|
Arabs are rioting now for over a month. It started with Tunisia. A country that seemed quiet and cultured. The Israelis who came from Tunisian descend are known for their quiet personality and hard work. Then came the Egyptians, hardly people of protest, at least not the violent kind. We still hear a bit of echoes from Iranian protests. But somehow the government's harsh suppression and communication isolation has made us forget. We hear protest in other places, like little lights turning on in the middle of the night. One should remember that Israel is the only democracy in our little corner of the world. From the Atlantic ocean to India. Far south as South Africa and who knows how far north, maybe Russia if one considers that government democratic. Israel is by far the only democracy here. So suddenly seeing countries who did not go through the adoption of democracy asking for rule by the people is refreshing. But not really. Israelis are cautious about celebrating democracy in Egypt, Syria or Jordan. Here, we better off not getting our hopes up. We have seen the rise of Gaddafi in Libya and Mubarak in Egypt. We have seen changes in economy and government in the gulf states. We have seen the war between Iran and Iraq, with very little change in how these countries are ruled and their acceptance of democratic processes by the people. So the press is quiet about our hopes, so is the government. Unlike Obama and Clinton in the press, Bibi and Lieberman are shy to advise Arabs what to do next.Read More...
Friday, November 5, 2010
|Fish ponds in lower Gililly. Northern Israel was first cultivated in the 1880s and started a 130 year tradition of turning Israel into a green space. From the air the effort has become Israel's ''green line'' / from Israel's PickiWiki Site|
Last week I wrote about passive solar water heating [here]. Saving energy is a crucial and useful policy and affects every Israeli. A more environmental policy going back more than a century is greening the desert: planting forests, cultivating agriculture and cultivating urban green spaces. Israel's green line is one of the most important long term green activity. It is actually Israel's biggest contribution to the world and can affect more people in the surrounding states than any political and military activity. Politically the green line has become synonymous with Israel's 1948 borders. Today, the name is synonymous with the Palestinian struggle and Israel's security border. The name actually comes from aerial photos of Israel contrasted against background of the surrounding states. Essentially Israel looks green from the air. This is an amazing accomplishment considering the climate and history of the region. Since the first immigration of Jews to Israel in the 1880s, there has been an immense effort to plant forests, make living spaces green and cultivate agriculture. The effort has been a crucial economic engine in early years of the state when Israel became an agricultural economy. It is also been a symbol of care and nurturing of the land to millions of Jews around the world.Read More...
Saturday, May 1, 2010
|Israelis act as if they are here forever, but sometimes speak as if just temporary visitors. Israeli survey point marker at the end of Tel Aviv's marina pier / © 2010|
I don't understand how Israelis think about the future. It's not because I don't understand the words or ideas, it's just that there are so many different views, most conflicting. Some Israelis really believe that the state is not going to survive. If saddam hussein with chemical rockets from Iraq, the Palestinian suicide attack or Ahmadinejad's nuclear bombs don't succeed, eventually someone is going to bring down the state. These views are based on personal fears and media reports. On the hopeful side, Israelis simply point out where Israel is today and how people struggled for a long time to keep us safe. Attacks on Jews (essentially pre-Israel) started before the state was declared, wars with bigger armies and more determined leaders did not bring down the state, why would someone succeed now? Then there are the middle thinkers, Israelis who think that a really strong force came at us, an Iranian nuclear bomb for example, the Israeli army would retaliate. Something would remain after the smoked cleared. To outsiders this all seems grim, but what else can we do with daily news reports of someone making a speech to squash us?Read More...
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
An old American friend writes to me about Israeli writers.
"What is it with them? Are they all frustrated, angry, recluse that write just about frustration?"
This conversation started over 25 years ago with Amos Oz's Black Box. How can anyone even write with such moody perspective. Can't Israelis write happy novels and escape the reality or at least give American the feeling that something is good over there? Is it the case that life is such a frustrating experience, filled with tension, fear, anger... that it seeps quietly into literature (without us even knowing it?) Next comes: you (that's me) tell me that Israel is nothing like what portrayed in the press, but the literature is dark and gloomy. The mainstream press you can dismiss but the literature does not come from nothing! Is this a case of American and European publishers giving their readers what they want? not what is real? After all, publishers and book sellers need to sell books, if people around the world see Israel as a dangerous and frustrating place from the media perspective, sell them books written by frustrating gloomy writers, wallah!Read More...
Friday, March 12, 2010
Tip O'Neil's famous quote: "all politics is local" comes to mind this week. I am commenting on Joe Biden the US VP's uncomfortable position with regard to Jerusalem's city planning board approval of 1,600 new housing units in east Jerusalem [Haaretz/EN]. Joe Biden came to make nice with Netanyahu and the Israeli leaders. Since peace negotiations with the Palestinians is crawling at a snail's pace, everyone wants to get the credit for bringing the two sides together. US president Obama is busy with domestic issues, he does not seem to be giving the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations any attention. Hillery Clinton tried her hand but did not win the hearts or minds of either side. So Biden was sent to give the negotiations a kick start. Biden came to make sure the Israeli's are not aggravating the Palestinians by building outside the green line. This is in keeping with the last agreement between the sides to cool down the bickering. On Biden's second day in Jerusalem the city's building authority announced approval of 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem and up to 50,000 units outside the green line going forward a decade from now [Haaretz article]. This seemed like a planned "slap in the face" of Biden. Not so say most Jerusalem residents, Biden is not part of the equation this time and neither are the PalestiniansRead More...
Monday, October 5, 2009
Unless you have been living under a rock in Tel Aviv you definitely hear, see and FEEL the quiet nervous tension here. This quiet two minutes and forty second plea for freedom was streamed on TV and computer screens like a thunder bolt in mid-summer. The first few seconds after he finished was the most silent Tel Aviv has been in a long time. Than came the whispers and interpretations. What can you say to a prisoner held for four years? What can you tell the family? What should the government do? Tzipi Livni more than two years ago blurted out in anger something like "we are not going to bow down to the Palestinians on the count of one..." Immediately Olmert, Ashkenazi, Barak and everyone you can think of wanted to hit Livni on the head with a baseball bat (OK we don't have baseball here, we can find a bat somewhere.) But there was something to that blurb that is finally sinking in for Israelis and Palestinians: nobody wants to back down and look like a loser. The Israelis are not willing to let murderers out just to be treated like heroes in Gaza. The Palestinians are not willing to settle for not getting everyone out of prison, specially their big heroes. Shalit sits in a hole just beyond our reach. To most at first impression he "looked good". But the way he looked did not calm the nervousness. Just seeing this face reading quietly a simple speech [video/transcript] made everyone's hair stand in the back of his neck.
I think you know things are bad when nobody talks about it. The old white elephant in the middle of the room, the king walking naked in the middle of the street, Shalit still "there" four years later. The situation indicates two big shifts in attitude in Tel Aviv:
1) Israelis are no longer willing to trade Palestinians at any price. If we "JUST" get Shalit without a complete stop to terrorism "they" are not going to get the "very bad ones". (Israelis are not willing to release mass murderers which for the Palestinians are heros)
2) Israelis can be silent and tolerant for a long long time. We can take stress, we can take Iranian presidents on TV, we can take Nasrala and Haniya on TV. We can take silence from Ashkenazi and Bibi... few remember 8 years of shelling from Gaza, Israelis remember.Read More...
Friday, October 2, 2009
Tel Avivians recently upgraded their image of slick politically correct speakers. Not by international standards, but certainly by Israeli standards. Israelis for a long time had an image of rough and undiplomatic. Today in fact, Tel Aviv behaves much more like a modern European city than an Israeli Kibbutz from the 1950's. The change from brash, brutally honest, "I don't care what you think of me" to civility is something foreigners notice right away. Specially visitors who have not been here in a decade or two and remember the days when Israelis were on top of the world. In general, Israelis are not particularly interested in politics. In everyday life, you do not hear much political talk, there are just too many other issues to worry about. If you are interested in politics try a few people and see who bites. Tel Avivians are not worried about what they say, so they will tell you what they think. If you need to decode what they say here are a few things I heard recently. Here is a short decode table:
- I do not understand politics: I am tired of the empty promises before elections and the excuses after.
- Politics is in my blood: My great uncle was a low level beurocrat in the histadrut (national labor union, at one time representing most workers in Israel.)
- I follow politics religiously: 1) I watch the news every evening. 2) I hear all kind of things but believe very little until I see real action.
- Politics is my religion: I vote in most elections and I do not practice any religion regularly.
- I don't want to hear about politics: 1) I really don't care what politicians say and do. 2) Bring it on, I love talking (arguing) politics.
- I am not that interested in politics: Politics are a waste of time but if you got an opinion I am sure we can argue about something.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The number of unemployed in Israel is flat or slightly down at 7.6% (1st quarter 2009) [228,000 out of 3.005 million workers, Israel Bureau of Statistics, 27/5/09]. Unemployed workers now outnumber the number of foreign workers. This puts pressure on the state to reduce the number of foreign workers. But some of the foreign worker are doing work Israeli natives are not willing to do. Still, out of approximately 200,000 registered foreign workers there must be some who can be replaced by Israelis. There are estimated 200,000 more unregistered illegal workers (some with expired permits some smuggled through Egypt and Jordan). The thinking now, while the economy is not creating enough jobs, first turns to these workers. The reduction of foreign workers in Israel started in mid-2008. The Olmert administration did not pay much attention to the details: what work needs to be done and by whom. They just cared about reducing the number of foreign workers, and as quickly as possible. A policy was formulated to reduce the foreign workers by half in one year (mid 2009) with focus on restaurant and services (i.e. cleaning), and agriculture (i.e. pickers and packers). The idea was to give Israelis a chance to take the jobs which will open up once foreign workers left. It has not worked very well, in some sectors it has not worked at all. The jobs in home care of old people, now done by young women from the Philippines and Thailand is attracting so few Israelis, training programs are no longer running. In agriculture the problem is even worst, farmers are already warning that some crops will simply disappear from store shelves. Some cash crops will not be exported any more. Even if Israeli workers start processing fruits and vegetables the cost of manufacturing will go up. In today's economic climate farmers will not be profitable or will lose their competitive pricing. This is the price we pay in hard economic times, some products simply are not viable. This means some workers are not needed.Read More...
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Agriculture of past times; ארכיון קיבוץ עין השופט Kibbutz Ein Ha'shofet archives / CC2.5 / taken from 1939 to 1950 / link: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PikiWiki_Israel_2065_Agriculture%20in%20Israel_%D7%97%D7%A7%D7%9C%D7%90%D7%95%D7%AA%20%D7%A9%D7%9C%20%D7%A4%D7%A2%D7%9D.jpg
A report on Israel's radio this morning mentioned an interesting story. Gulf states investors are buying land in northern Israel. The sellers are Israeli farmers in economic dire straights and apparently the investors are individuals or organizations based in the gulf states (Kuwait, UAE, Dubai, Bahrain). Jewish agricultural land ownership in northern Israel go back more than fifty years, in some cases even a hundred years. These are private lands bought by European Jews just before and after the state was founded. The land was bought from Arab individuals for agricultural use and at the time (1900's to 1940's) the Zionist intention was to build communities based on farming. The idea of Jews farming was revolutionary a hundred years ago. The idea of farming in Israel was a European dream. In the diaspora Jews were not allowed to own land and eventually turned into urban dwellers. But all of that is old history.Read More...
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Politicians attract media like moths to light especially in Israel. But here the bureaucrats really run things. Bickering between the two fills newspaper pages. This is what Israelis really want to know and in all its gory details. Political aids moving to administrative positions make good stories. Bureaucrats holding back a big project like the new rail line to Jerusalem or the electric coal plant two years late in construction are even better. School budgets and the shameful state of affairs with the teachers are always good stories. Water issues and the 10 years of bickering over a desalination plant, which nobody really wants in their back yard (remember the American NIMBY movement?) [see existing plant] Israel's politicians are no different than most democratically elected officials, they boast and promise great things before elections. What happens once politicians are elected and they face the bureaucrats running the government? Well, we call it bureaucracy. Politicians complain, say that things could be better, that decisions and actions have to be made more quickly, that process (American investment lawyers call it 'due diligence') always hold back good plans. The bureaucrats are not phased by politician's promises without meaning, budgets and trade-offs. Following laws and regulations, assuring proper process, making sure the public's interest is taken care of that makes them happy.Read More...
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The United States, England, France, Germany and most western developed countries act like they have no interest in protecting freedom against the worst tyranny on earth. Freedom is of no interest to the so called free world. The United Nations just sites quietly, not even debating the issues on TV. Who cared when the Nazis killed innocent Jews and the weak minorities of Europe? NO ONE in the free world! These are the same countries that don't give a damn that thousands of freedom fighters are being slaughtered by the 21st century version of the Nazi party in Iran, cloaked under the guise of religious purity. (The NAZI party also called "National Socialist German Workers' Party" gussied their intentions behind socialism for workers).
Only Israel has called on the United Nations to halt this slaughter and show support for freedom. Benyamin Netanyahu said on what is going on in Iran:
"I cannot tell you how this thing will end up. I think something very deep and very fundamental is going on... There is an expression of the deep desire amid the people of Iran for freedom. ... This is what is going on."
While president Barack Obama waited a week and more to "toughen up" on Iran (until June 23rd). It's time for the free world to stand up for what they say they believe in. The leaders of these countries should hang their heads in shame. Perhaps they should all resign and go live with the mullahs.
We should all fight for freedom
Cast off your chains
sam-d-man @ TLV tomorrow blog